Manipulations of Othello in William Shakespeare's Play

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Manipulations of Othello in William Shakespeare's Play

One of the main themes running through Othello is jealousy. Othello's

jealousy for Desdemona and Bianca's for Cassio. The catalyst for this

jealously though is Iago's manipulation of the characters and their

own failure to communicate and trust one another over Iago.

These massive doses of jealousy lead to death and the downfall of the

hero of the play. On the surface it seems like Iago is the cause of

this, so why does the audience often feel empathy towards Iago, and

even enjoy his clever manipulations?

Iago has by far the most soliloquies in Othello, more than the title

character, and he uses them slightly differently to Othello or, for

example, Macbeth, who both use the soliloquies to describe their feels

and passions. They act more like they are talking to themselves than

to the audience. However, Iago talks to the audience and brings us in

to his world. This is an attempt to bridge the gap between the

audience and the characters. He talks about his plans and hints at his

motives (he claims to Roderigo that Othello has slept with Emilia, his

wife) but, most interestingly of all, he constantly tries to justify

his evil actions.

'And what's he then that says I play the villain,

When this advice is free I give and honest?'

He brings into question the audience's core morality. The audience,

for our part, seems to lap up his words and enjoy with some sort of

sadistic pleasure his extremely talented actions. Iago is one of

Shakespeare's most complex villains.

'We cannot all be masters, nor all masters

Cannot be truly followed…

Heaven is my judge'

Maybe the question we should be asking is not why the audience may

enjoy Iago, but why Iago makes the effort to make us enjoy his

actions. He craves to control other people's lives and then see their

downfall. He sees himself as the director of a play and every play

must have an audience. Parallels could be found in the psychoanalysis
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